shorthand (n.)

"method or system using abbreviations or arbitrary simple characters to enable rapid writing," 1630s, from short (adj.) in the "rapid" sense + hand (n.) "handwriting." Related: Shorthander.

Related entries & more 
condom (n.)

"contraceptive sheath," 1706, traditionally named for a British physician during reign of Charles II (a story traceable to 1709), but there is no evidence for that. Also spelled condam, quondam, which suggests it may be from Italian guantone, from guanto "a glove." A word omitted in the original OED (c. 1890) and not used openly in the U.S. and not advertised in mass media until the November 1986 speech by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on AIDS prevention. Compare prophylactic.

Related entries & more 
gradualism (n.)

"a gradual method of action," 1832, in abolitionist literature, as a disparaging term (opposed to immediatism), from gradual + -ism. Related: Gradualist; gradualistic.

Related entries & more 
flu (n.)

1839, flue, shortening of influenza. Spelling flu attested from 1893. The abstraction of the middle syllable is an uncommon method of shortening words in English; Weekley compares tec for detective, scrip for subscription.

Related entries & more 
clinch (n.)

1620s, "method of fastening ropes," nautical, from clinch (v.). Also compare clench (n.). Meaning "a fastening by bending a driven nail" is from 1650s. In pugilism, "grappling at close quarters," from 1875.

Related entries & more 
pill (n.)

c. 1400, pille, "globular or ovoid mass of medicinal substance of a size convenient for swallowing," from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German pille and Old French pile, all from Latin pilula "pill," literally "little ball," diminutive of pila "a ball, playing ball," which is perhaps related to pilus "hair" if the original notion was "hairball."

The figurative sense "something disagreeable that must be accepted ('swallowed')" is from 1540s. The slang meaning "disagreeable or objectionable person, bore," is by 1871. The pill "contraceptive pill" is from 1957.

Related entries & more 
phonics (n.)

1680s, "phonetics, the doctrine or science of sound," especially of the human voice, from Greek phōnē "sound, voice" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say") + -ics.

As the name of a method of teaching reading by associating letters or groups of letters with particular sounds in an alphabetic writing system, especially as correlations between sound and symbol, it is attested by 1901 and became prominent in that sense after 1950, though the systematic method itself dates from the 1830s.

Related entries & more 
humor (n.)

mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour "liquid, dampness; (medical) humor" (Old French humor, umor; Modern French humeur), from Latin umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false association with humus "earth"); related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet" (see humid).

In old medicine, "any of the four body fluids" (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black bile).

The human body had four humors—blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile—which, in turn, were associated with particular organs. Blood came from the heart, phlegm from the brain, yellow bile from the liver, and black bile from the spleen. Galen and Avicenna attributed certain elemental qualities to each humor. Blood was hot and moist, like air; phlegm was cold and moist, like water; yellow bile was hot and dry, like fire; and black bile was cold and dry, like earth. In effect, the human body was a microcosm of the larger world. [Robert S. Gottfried, "The Black Death," 1983]

 Their relative proportions were thought to determine physical condition and state of mind. This gave humor an extended sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (recorded from 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness, jocular turn of mind" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" as determined by state of mind (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge (someone's) fancy or disposition." Modern French has them as doublets: humeur "disposition, mood, whim;" humour "humor." "The pronunciation of the initial h is only of recent date, and is sometimes omitted ..." [OED].

For aid in distinguishing the various devices that tend to be grouped under "humor," this guide, from Henry W. Fowler ["Modern English Usage," 1926] may be of use:

HUMOR: motive/aim: discovery; province: human nature; method/means: observation; audience: the sympathetic
WIT: motive/aim: throwing light; province: words & ideas; method/means: surprise; audience: the intelligent
SATIRE: motive/aim: amendment; province: morals & manners; method/means: accentuation; audience: the self-satisfied
SARCASM: motive/aim: inflicting pain; province: faults & foibles; method/means: inversion; audience: victim & bystander
INVECTIVE: motive/aim: discredit; province: misconduct; method/means: direct statement; audience: the public
IRONY: motive/aim: exclusiveness; province: statement of facts; method/means: mystification; audience: an inner circle
CYNICISM: motive/aim: self-justification; province: morals; method/means: exposure of nakedness; audience: the respectable
SARDONIC: motive/aim: self-relief; province: adversity; method/means: pessimism; audience: the self
Related entries & more 
hyperventilation (n.)

1877, "method of treating certain diseases (especially tuberculosis) by exposing them to drafts of air," from hyper- "over, exceedingly, to excess" + ventilation. From 1907 as "extremely rapid deep breathing, short for hyperventilation of the lungs (1902).

Related entries & more 
impalement (n.)

1590s, "act of enclosing with stakes," from impale (v.) + -ment, perhaps on model of French empalement; formerly in English it often was spelled empalement. In reference to the method of torture/punishment from 1620s.

Related entries & more 

Page 3